(Link to Council Priorities: P1 and P3)
The Portfolio Holder for Planning Services introduced the item and advised Members that on 29 February 2016, the Council had received its first application to designate a neighbourhood area and forum for the Burwood Park Private Estate for the purposes of preparing a Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP). The proposed area and forum application was the first part of a formal process which required the Council to consult on and then consider whether to designate both the proposed area the plan would cover and the community group leading the process.
The Cabinet noted that neighbourhood planning was a right for communities introduced through the Localism Act 2011. In this regard, communities could shape development in their areas through the production of a NDP, which following examination and referendum, if found sound, would become part of the Council’s Local Plan. The policies contained within the NDP would then be used in the determination of planning applications for that area. It was acknowledged that the policies produced could not block development that was already part of the Local Plan, but could shape where that development would go and what it would look like.
The Portfolio Holder reported that in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012, the Council commenced a 7 week public consultation exercise in March 2016. It was noted that a copy of the application, details on how to make representations and the date by which representations needed to be received, had been published on the website.
The Cabinet noted that 81 people had responded to the consultation which included a 46 signature petition, the results of which were as follows:
· whilst 21 people (26%) believed the proposed boundary was appropriate for designation as a neighbourhood area, 59 people (73%) believed it was not appropriate; and
· whilst 21 people (26%) stated that the proposed Forum was appropriate and representative of the local community, 60 people (74%) stated it was not appropriate.
The Portfolio Holder updated that having reviewed the submitted applications, supporting information and the responses received to the public consultation, it was considered that the proposed Burwood Park Neighbourhood area was appropriate and met the Government’s requirements.
Whilst acknowledging the high levels of objection to the forum application, it was further considered that with the change to the written constitution, the proposed forum was in compliance with legislation and regulation and should therefore be designated.
The Cabinet discussed in detail the proposal and whilst acknowledging that all the Government’s requirements had been met, concern was raised regarding whether this would encourage more local areas to apply for the designation of a neighbour area and forum. In light of this, it was reiterated that whilst neighbourhood policies could be produced, these could not block development that was already part of the Local Plan.
In accordance with Part 5-30 of the Council’s Constitution, the Leader invited Councillor G.P. Dearlove, one of the Oatlands and Burwood Park Ward Councillors, to address the Cabinet in respect of the item. Councillor Dearlove queried why part of Queens Road and Westcar Lane had not been included within the proposed neighbourhood area. The Portfolio Holder for Planning Services commented that whilst part of Queens Road and Westcar Lane had not been included, the properties within the proposed neighbourhood area had a consistent scale and style, and formed part of a coherent estate for residents. She further commented that properties within Burwood East had a slightly higher density and were not gated or part of a coherent estate with a formal community based group and as such the proposed area designation was deemed appropriate.
In accordance with Part 5-30 of the Council’s Constitution, the Leader invited Councillor B.J.F. Cheyne, one of the Oatlands and Burwood Park Ward, to address the meeting. Councillor Cheyne had similar concerns to those raised by Councillor Dearlove, however he felt that as the Borough’s ward boundaries had been changed as a result of the recent Boundary Review, his Ward now included the Burwood Park area and in this regard he felt that this application should be discussed with the relevant Ward Councillors before a decision was made.
Accordingly, whilst acknowledging that the Cabinet had delegated authority to agree the designation of the proposed Burwood Park Neighbourhood Area and Forum, in order to enable further discussions with the Oatlands & Burwood Park and Hersham Village Ward Councillors, it was proposed that the matter be referred to Council on 20 July 2016 for agreement, which the Cabinet supported.